Test Drives

coaloffice1The Coal Office from the outside.

So what do we need to know about The Coal Office?

Ostensibly, it's the first restaurant to open in the new section behind King's Cross, collectively known as Coal Drops Yard. In charge of the show here is Assaf Granit, chef and co-owner of The Palomar and The Barbary. Day to day though, the chef running things is Nitai Shevach. Design-wise though it's all Tom Dixon, from the light fittings to the chairs. We wanted to buy it all.

Where is it then?

Although it isn't technically in Coal Drops Yard itself, it is right next door as part of the huge Tom Dixon Building. The restaurant covers three floors. Downstairs is a yet-to-open chef's table. The ground floor is the main restaurant - complete with counter dining - and upstairs is a brighter space that's mainly used for their daytime offering as well as drinks and snacks - and that leads out on to a beautiful terrace.

Where's good to meet pre-dinner for drinks?

The Lighterman or Spiritland, across Granary Square, are currently the closest spots for a drink (although that choice will be a lot bigger when Coal Drops Yard opens up fully next month). And then there are the drinks at Coal Office itself.

cocktailIt's well worth starting with a cocktail - all priced between £10 and £12. This is the Flashbang - vodka, lime, pomegranate liqueur, rose syrup and Aperol. And we were particularly impressed with the ice action going on at the top. That mini ice bowl contains pomegranate seeds.

OK - I've made my booking, where do I want to sit?

Hands-down our choice would be up at the bar. If you remember the difference at The Palomar between the counter experience and the dining room, then you'll understand why. The energy of the chefs at work here is brilliant to watch. That said, you could pick one of the smaller tables a row back from the counter and still get to watch, with a little more distance. If you're a group - then there are plenty of larger tables in the main dining room.

So what's on the menu?

The menu kicks off with a range of dishes under the heading 'coal and wood' and then splits off into small, large and in-between plates. Here's what we had on the night.

aubergineJosperized Aubergine 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 with green tahini and pistachio (£7) - partly we ordered this after seeing how lovingly it was plated up. But it tasted every bit as good as it looked. And we can rarely ignore an aubergine dish.

pate2It's hard to take a particularly good picture of this dish - because it's laid out on a HUGE marble slab. Don't (as we did) order this at the same time as anything else if you're up at the counter. That disc to the left is the Ashkenazi Chicken Liver Pate (£8.50) along with warm date scones, hazelnuts and figs and an unbilled fruit/vegetable - you have to guess what it is.

marrow2Baked Bone Marrow – Midnight Shawarma (£12) - sort of a deconstructed kebab with bits of toast to slather scooped out bone marrow, meat and onions on to. This would be AMAZING if you were hungover - although it's also good if you're not, obvs.

chicken2Ironed chicken on a mound of violet polenta along with black bulghur and a massive dollop of Hollandaise sauce (£16) - comforting and delicious.

tomatoesIf tomatoes don't taste good as this point of the year then we should all go home. This tomato salad (£8.50) was a take on Panzanella with croutons and pine nuts and tasted heavenly, particularly once they'd microplaned feta and ricotta 'snow' all over it.

How about desserts? 

It is very easy to get carried away with the ordering up to this point, so we think you could happily share one of the following between two...

financierNow THIS is the size of financier we approve of. This was the no-so-simple cheescake with pistachio financier and teeny dots of lemon curd (£7.50).

cake2Uri’s Mothers Fig Basbossa - or semolina cake - served up warm with tahini ice cream (£8) - a concoction which works better than you think it might. Also comes with some excellent rose custard. 

What's the choice like for non-meat eaters? 

Pretty good from the fattoush salad to the amazing aubergine above - and for mains you could opt for the Freekeh Risotto with green wheat, skordalia cream and black aubergine. If you're a pescatarian there are as many fish dishes as there are meat ones.

And what about the wine list? 

Wines start at £24.60 for a bottle of organic Macabao from Spain and there's plenty in the £30-40 range with the spendiest being a bottle of Montrachet at £170. It's a mainly European list with some interesting English wines in there too.

Overall thoughts

If you don't love Coal Office, then I don't think we can be friends. From the cracking soundtrack that had the chefs (and us) singing along to Donna Summer followed by Antony and The Johnsons to the crazy, wonderful food served up with heart, this King's Cross restaurant feels like what you'd get if Studio 54 had opened a restaurant. Life affirming stuff. Go.

 

More about The Coal Office

Where is it? 2 Bagley Walk, London N1C 4PQ

How to book: Call 0203 848 6085 or email hello@coaloffice.com

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @coaloffice

 

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